India’s inaugural festival of international contemporary arts, The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is taking place in Kochi and Muziris from December 2012 to March 2013.
The three-month-long art show will have 80 artists from over 35 countries participating. At least 40 Indian artists are expected to exhibit. This event is mentioned in the ‘13 cultural events to be seen at‘ by Forbes Magazine, Harper‟s Bazaar Art Issue, British Airways Highlife “Six of the Best Biennales” and The New York Times “The 45 Places to Go in 2012”. Planned to be India’s largest contemporary public art event, it will display some of the best artwork ranging from film installation to painting, sculpture, new media and performance art. The event is aimed at recreating the cultural legacy of the modern-day Kochi and its mythical predecessor – the ancient port Muziris. In May 2010 acclaimed painter-curators Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu were approached by the then culture minister MA Baby to start an international art project in Kerala. They proposed a biennale which is broader in scope than an art fair or exhibition as it is about people and a place.
The place is Kochi, the commercial capital of Kerala in India. Set in and around the atmospheric and multi-cultural Fort Kochi there are temples, churches and one of India’s oldest mosques This area is the hub of the Kerala spice trade. Famous for tea, dried fruits, pepper, cashew nuts and rubber, it stretches from the Vypin Jetty along Kalvathi Road and Bazar Road to the Dutch Palace.
The Durbar Hall is one of the very few public facilities in the country that meets the requirements for hosting such exhibitions having undergone a Rs. 3.5 crore restoration.
Artists from Australia, Afghanistan, the UAE, South Korea, The Netherlands and,of course, from all over India have already arrived to survey the spaces and begin work. Artists in Residence: K P Reji is starting work on a large triptych to be shown at Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012 at the 16,000 square feet Pepper House. Portuguese muralist, painter, and political artist Rigo 23 (Ricardo Gouveia) who compares Kochi Muziris with his other experiences in biennales in an interview with The Hindu says, ”I’m super grateful this one is very far from Venice – there is no worse feeling than when art appears so at home in the spoiled lap of luxury and vanity.” About his installation at Cochin Shipyard’s abandoned dockyard in Calvathy, Rigo says, “I will make a mythical creature that transports.” Artist UBIK is of Kerala origin living and working in Dubai, UAE recently participated in a Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012 outreach programme. His works experiment around appropriation and manipulation of text and images.
With Academy Award-nominated singer, songwriter, painter and director MIA rumoured to open the event it’s going to set a trail for Indian art on the global canvas.
Kochi is to have its own Literary Festival ‘Annual Rings’ which will be the literary segment of Kochi Biennale.